Community advances into ‘Stage 3’

Most businesses say it will take time to implement new measures

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Community advances into ‘Stage 3’Kern County, along with most other regions in the state, have advanced into Stage 3 of reopening California’s economy. The latest wave of relaxed restrictions allows gyms, bars, daycares and other areas of moderate traffic to resume operations under modified conditions.

“With the recent announcement of additional industries to reopen, the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce looks forward to seeing our great community re-emerge with growth and new opportunities,” said chamber executive director Tim Smith.

“While new systems are instituted to protect our local businesses, their staffs and the public, we encourage all of Ridgecrest to be patient with one another as the wrinkles are ironed out. The chamber and our varied members are our best when we support one another, build community and strengthen the economy.”

Restrictions from the shelter-at-home orders issued March 19 by Gov. Gavin Newsom have gone forward more expeditiously than previously predicted. So long as counties can demonstrate adequate health-care capacity, protective equipment and measures to prevent the spread of infection, said Newsom, communities can move into this next phase.

Newsom’s office released a guidance document on June 5 that provides precautions for each of the industries impacted by the latest development. (See covid19.ca.gov for additional information).

Kern County officials stated that they want businesses to open “safely and responsibly and as quickly as possible.” However, many businesses noted that it could be a week or more before all measures in the governor’s guidance document can be implemented.

Although most proprietors did not want to go on the record until they had set a date for reopening, many noted that there was an overwhelming number of logistics to resolve before operations could be modified to comply with new state requirements.

State guidance has been provided for schools, day camps, campgrounds, hotels, casinos/card rooms, media production, professional sports (no audience), bars, gyms and fitness studios, family entertainment centers (including movie theaters), zoos and museums.

“We encourage everyone to continue to protect themselves from COVID-19, practice physical distancing, wear face coverings when unable to achieve physical distancing, and wash hands frequently,” said Dr. Kris Lyon of Kern County.

“There are still some businesses and activities that do not have guidance and therefore are still not allowed to operate at this time.” There is still no timeline for when Stage 4 operations — which include sports and concert arenas as well as other mass gatherings — will be allowed to resume.

Public health officials have also noted that it will be important for the public to comply with the new measures adopted by businesses. “These actions have been and will continue to play a crucial role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

At press time, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital had administered more than 850 tests for COVID-19, and had reported only 8 positive cases. So far, all local patients have been able to recover without being hospitalized.

County-wide, some 35,000 tests have been administered, with less than 3,000 testing positively for the virus. There have been 50 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Kern County.

Pictured: Cinema operators hope to reopen soon. — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-06-12